OPPOSING LEGISLATION THAT CAPS NON-ECONOMIC DAMAGES AND SUPPORTING REFORM THAT MITIGATES THE MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE CRISIS
WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association is committed to serving the public by promoting justice, professional excellence and respect for the rule of law to foster understanding of, involvement in and access to the system of justice; and
WHEREAS, on March 20, 2002, the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act (Act 2002-13) was enacted, in part, to ensure that a full spectrum of hospital services and highly trained physicians from all specialties remain available in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and that medical professional liability insurance may be obtained at affordable and reasonable costs in every geographic region in the Commonwealth; and
WHEREAS, on April 22, 2002, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1023.1-4 to ensure that every pleading, written motion and other paper directed to the Courts have a proper purpose, are non-frivolous and embrace evidentiary support and contain only good faith claims and defenses; and
WHEREAS, on June 19, 2002, Act 2002-57 was enacted amending 42 Pa.C.S. § 7102, in part, to require that joint and several liability for the total amount of any award for damages be imposed only for a defendant held liable for not less than sixty (60%) percent of the total liability apportioned to all defendants; and
WHEREAS, on January 27, 2003, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court promulgated Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1042.1-8 mandating that a Certificate of Merit be filed for any Civil Action in which a professional liability claim is asserted against a licensed professional; and
WHEREAS, on January 27, 2003, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court amended Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure 1006, 2130, 2156 and 2179 requiring, in part, that a medical professional liability action be brought against a healthcare provider for a medical professional liability claim only in a county in which the cause of action arose; and
WHEREAS, all of the above reform measures are intended as short-term and long-term solutions to the medical professional liability insurance crisis.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association recognizes that any legislation capping non-economic damages would be a harsh and overbroad measure that would affect the most severely injured victims of avoidable medical mistakes and usurp the right of Pennsylvania citizens to have a jury assign fair and full compensation on an individual case basis;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association believes in the jury system of justice and that the above described reform measures will lower medical professional liability premium rates in the future for affected healthcare providers;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED , that the Philadelphia Bar Association believes that the above reform measures will facilitate the providing of affordable and available medical malpractice insurance without taking away a person's right to fully recover damages under the Pennsylvania jury system;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED , that the Philadelphia Bar Association opposes any federal legislation that caps or limits the recovery of non-economic damages in any health care lawsuit for injuries resulting in death, or for injuries to persons or property that would preempt Pennsylvania law or rule of court;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED , that the Philadelphia Bar Association opposes any legislation in the State General Assembly that caps or limits the recovery of non-economic damages for injuries resulting in death, or for injuries to persons or property; and
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association supports and encourages the enactment of legislation that will provide relief to the medical professional liability insurance crisis provided that such relief does not impose arbitrary limits on the right to recovery of non-economic damages for injuries resulting in death, or for injuries to person or property.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Chancellor is authorized to take whatever steps are necessary to effectuate this resolution.
PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: October 30, 2003